Automated sorting and classifying systems have increased the productivity of many food plants and reduced the number of repetitive motion injuries of workers. However, their complexity can lead to occasional issues. When problems occur, they are often in the following 3 areas:
- Timing issues resulting in sorting errors
- Computer network failures
- Personnel resistance to new equipment implementation
- Timing Issues: A sorting/classifier system needs to capture the weight of the item to be sorted and determine which bin, tote, box, or chute that item should be sent to. Sortation systems that depend on a preset amount of time to activate the proper divert are vulnerable to sorting errors due to timing issues. Sudden fluctuations in electrical power can cause considerable problems with sortation system timing.
Solution: Our approach is distance-based divert activation rather than time-based activation. By directly interfacing to conveyor movement and positively determining the amount of distance the item to be sorted travels, we eliminate sorting errors caused by electrical irregularities.
- Computer Network Failures: If your sortation system is remotely controlled via your computer network, you put your production at the risk of your network. When your network goes down, so does the sortation system.
Solution: We offer two types of controllers on our systems. Both of them can store information in a local database and continue to run in the event of a network failure. While the network is down, these controllers will continue to store production records. When the network is restored, those saved records are available for upload. The main differences between our two types of controllers are primarily in the type of database, the user interface, and the amount of information that can be stored.
- Personnel resistance to new equipment: VBS has designed, manufactured, and supervised the installation of many sorting and classifier systems. We recognize that many workers resist change, which includes implementation of new equipment and processes. If your team is not on board with the new equipment, it will be a failure.
Solution: The importance of training cannot be over emphasized. Therefore we allocate a significant amount of time to train your workers on exactly how our sortation system works. We work with people to overcome objections and answer all questions. In the end they will see how the new sorting system will make their life easier and reduce muscle strain. By getting team buy-in, your business will be able to maximize the system payback.